While there are many hobbies people enjoy, two of the fastest growing ones are Airsoft and Milsim. With more people partaking in the activities, both hobbies have received more attention. Perhaps one of the most common questions about these activities is: What do the military and servicemen think of these activities?
Some soldiers hate Airsoft and Milsim because they feel they give people false impressions of what active combat is like. Moreover, players can sometimes be disrespectful to military traditions. However other members of the military have either no strong opinions on the activities or even enjoy them.
Just like anyone’s feelings toward any hobby, feelings are mixed regarding these activities, and so is the passion behind these feelings. Read on to learn more about why some soldiers dislike these activities, why some don’t seem to have passionate feelings, and why others like it.
Airsoft and Milsim Explained
For those of us who may never have had experiences with these hobbies, we might find ourselves asking: What is Airsoft? What is Milsim? Why do people like them?
Like paintball, Airsoft is a competitive team shooting sport where individuals form teams, wear proper safety equipment, and play in a set space. The objective is to eliminate the players on the opposing team by shooting spherical, non-metallic plates at one another.
The game is often played in some sort of arena similar to laser tag, but it can be enjoyed outside or in another type of contained environment.
Milsim stands for Military Simulation and is a recreational activity where participants must complete an objective in a military-like fashion.
Often this is done while playing paintball with two opposing “units,” but can also involve other recreational shooting sports such as airsoft or laser tag. There are also online versions of Milsim in the form of virtual reality or a first-person shooter game.
Milsim, similar to paintball, is often played in an arena, but these arenas are meant to simulate war conditions. This might mean the arena is a multiple story tower where teams must breach the building and locate a flag, but it could also be in a room full of sandbags meant to simulate a desert environment.
Negative Feelings Toward Airsoft and Milsim
Though many people enjoy these activities, some soldiers and members of the larger military community dislike Airsoft and Milsim for a variety of different reasons. The most predominant reason is that it recreationalizes the experience of war. It’s also sometimes viewed as disrespectful, and may trigger painful emotions for some veterans.
Let’s take a deeper look at each of these reasons.
Recreationalizing the Experience of War
Some soldiers find themselves very much against the idea of Airsoft and Milsim because it turns the war experience into a hobby. As many who have served in the military can tell you, war isn’t a pleasant or fun experience, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The act of risking your own life for the safety of your country takes enormous courage and strength, and the sacrifice should be respected.
What’s more, those who have served point out that killing another person isn’t something to joke about, even if you’re killing an enemy combatant. Shooting someone, even if it’s a game or computer-generated image, isn’t something to laugh about. When games like Airsoft or Milsim incorporate these aspects as an essential part of the game, many military personal dislike it.
Sometimes players can engage in Milsim in a disrespectful manner. One example is when people wear pretend emblems or badges denoting some sort of military status.
For example, being an Army Ranger takes a lot of discipline, training, and hard work. The achievement shouldn’t be taken lightly. So when someone wears the emblem without actually having accomplished this, some soldiers, understandably, take offense.
Another example is if people joke about being killed, or killing one another. Many military personnel have lost friends in deployment abroad. So, they don’t appreciate such jokes. If you do partake in Airsoft and Milsim, be respectful.
Triggering Anxiety and Panic for Those Who Served
After returning from deployment and having lived through a traumatic experience, some military members suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Sometimes, situations which seem to replicate memories associated with these traumatic events can trigger anxiety, paranoia, and panic in those who suffer. Similar to why some veterans dislike fireworks, seeing an Airsoft game or Milsim can trigger the traumatic memories associated with their deployment and can cause serious problems for veterans. Similar
While those who dislike Airsoft and Milsim for these reasons may not care if you play, they certainly hate the game.
Positive or Impartial Feelings Toward Airsoft and Milsim
While some soldiers certainly dislike Airsoft and Milism for these reasons, others are impartial to the activity, or actually enjoy participating.
Many servicemen and women regard joining the military as generally positive and an important part of their life. The chance to participate in these situations again, without being in danger, can be a welcome and joyful experience.
Others view Airsoft and Milsim as positive, arguing that it could help prepare soldiers for combat. At Fort Jackson, Airsoft and Milsim are actually being tested as a new way to train future soldiers for combat. Imagine being able to replicate nearly every condition of a hostile battlefield situation, without the danger of being injured. Trying to replicate these conditions has been a challenge for the military in the past, but Airsoft and Milsim offer a potential pathway.
Like anything, there are people that passionately support or oppose Airsoft and Milsim, and there are also many who are impartial to the activities.
Some military personnel dismiss the activities as childlike because they turn war into a fun activity. Plus, players can often be disrespectful to military traditions or insignia. These games can also trigger negative memories in veterans suffering from PTSD.
Nevertheless, there are merits to Milsim as a potential way of training soldiers without endangering their lives.